What does it mean when there are four bears dining on Cub Scouts in the forest, or a man hailing a taxidermist instead of a taxi?
It means that The Far Side is back — well, sort of, anyway.
Gary Larson Returns to Cartooning
I’m talking about those wild (and wildly popular) cartoon strips, of course. They were the creation of cartoonist Gary Larson, and they’ve been gone for more than two decades.
Gary Larson has been in retirement for 25 years, now.
Before he stepped away from The Far Side, it was syndicated in almost 2,000 daily papers around the world for 15 years. It was in 1995 that he retired the comic strip, saying at the time that he feared that “if I continue for many more years, my work will begin to suffer or at the very least ease into the Graveyard of Mediocre Cartoons.”
When he announced his retirement, he said it “felt good” to not have to meet daily deadlines. He also said that he had moved on to other interests, stating, “drawing just wasn’t on my to-do list.”
Of course, Larson still had “intermittent” connections to cartooning, like drawing a family Christmas card each year. This is what led him back into it again, but not quite in the way you might expect.
How Larson Found Himself Drawing Again
“Once a year, I’d sit myself down to take on Santa, and every year it began with the same ritual: me cursing at, and then cleaning out, my clogged pen,” Larson said.
It was a few years ago when he was finally fed up with his “traitorous pen,” so Larson sat down to try out a digital tablet.
And within moments, he was having fun drawing again.
Fittingly, the first thing he drew was a caveman.
Larson admits that learning how to draw digitally has been a “learning curve.”
“I hail from a world of pen and ink, and suddenly I was feeling like I was sitting at the controls of a 747. But as overwhelmed as I was, there was still something familiar there — a sense of adventure,” Larson said.
So Larson surprised fans this week with three new cartoons. The new single-panel comics show a man hailing a taxidermist instead of a taxi, four bears dining on Cub Scouts covered in honey, and two aliens discussing plans to “probe and release” a man approaching in a car.
And while these new comics certainly share Larson’s familiar style and unmistakable brand of absurdist humor, he says he doesn’t want to mislead anyone. This isn’t The Far Side — This is New Stuff.
“Again, please remember, I’m just exploring, experimenting, and trying stuff. New Stuff,” Larson wrote on his website. “I have just one last thing to say before I go: thank you, clogged pen.”